Sure Start appears to be finally delivering for children and families, with evidence of several benefits associated with living in a Sure Start area, in the latest national evaluation published today.
It found children in Sure Start areas showed more positive social behaviour and greater independence than counterparts in similarly deprived areas. And parents were more likely to provide a better learning environment for their children and exhibit less negative parenting, while reporting greater use of support services.
Benefits for all in Sure Start areas
Unlike the 2005 national evaluation of Sure Start, the benefits of living in an area with a children’s centre were not confined to particular groups, and applied to the most disadvantaged, such as teenage and lone parents and workless households.
However, the report found no apparent benefits from living in a Sure Start area in relation to child language development, negative social behaviour, father involvement, parental risk or measures of maternal well-being.
Cautious on improvement since 2005
It was also cautious over attributing the improvement in outcomes since the 2005 evaluation to the effects of Sure Start, suggesting these could be the result of methodological differences.
The evaluation coincides with the first national conference for Sure Start children’s centre managers today, which will include the launch of a new network for this group. Operating regionally, it is designed to enable leaders to share practice, access training and contribute to police.
In addition, the Department for Children, Schools and Families will publish a “communications toolkit” to help children’s centres promote their services to parents and a booklet on reaching out to black and minority ethnic families. It will also publish brochure summarising the services children’s centres offer, aimed at Sure Start partners.
Sure Start website